Sav­ing iconic Kyle sense­less

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - An­drew Robin­son is The Com­pass’ editor. He can be reached ate­d­i­tor@cbn­com­pass.ca.

Ask some­one from out­side the com­mu­nity what comes to mind when they think of Har­bour Grace, and chances are they’ll even­tu­ally men­tion the S.S. Kyle.

Its iconic pres­ence at the edge of the bay where Har­bour Grace meets River­head has been undis­turbed since 1967.

Few towns can claim to have a land­mark quite like it. The town’s web­site pro­motes the ship’s pres­ence, and it even had the Kyle Fes­ti­val (pre­vi­ously known as the Swim to the Kyle Fes­ti­val) this past week­end.

As one might ex­pect with a 102-year-old ves­sel that’s been left open to the el­e­ments for al­most 50 years, the Kyle is in hard shape.

The Com­pass re­ported over a year ago that a por­tion of the ship’s su­per­struc­ture col­lapsed, and it’s been al­most 20 years since the ship was last painted — an event im­mor­tal­ized by lo­cal singing cob­bler Bill Luff­man in his song “Paint Job on the Kyle.”

CBC posted a story last week about a video Paul and Kathy Short recorded with a drone

Given we’re this far along, it’s prob­a­bly a bit much to pre­sume the ves­sel is sal­vage­able in any sense.

that of­fers a neat over­head view of the Kyle — search “The Phan­tom and the SS Kyle” on YouTube to see it.

As has been the case for years, parts of the deck are over­grown with grass. Pieces of wood are miss­ing here and there.

It would be a risky ven­ture to stand on the ship nowa­days.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has owned the Kyle for decades now, and the CBC story sug­gests there’s peo­ple in Har­bour Grace who want the province to some­how help sal­vage it.

Given we’re this far along, it’s prob­a­bly a bit much to pre­sume the ves­sel is sal­vage­able in any sense.

Another drop of paint would be a waste of money. The ship’s struc­ture will only de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther in the years ahead. Tear­ing down the Kyle in some or­ga­nized fash­ion might be prefer­able to let­ting it fall apart and leav­ing var­i­ous bits and pieces to drift in the wa­ter.

That could prove to be a costly ven­ture given the safety con­sid­er­a­tions for work­ers hy­po­thet­i­cally tasked with tak­ing a heavy ves­sel apart.

Safest bet on this ship’s fate will likely con­tinue to rest with the el­e­ments.

They’ll re­sume do­ing the job that’s been on­go­ing since ’67. Some­day, the S.S. Kyle will cease to be and Har­bour Grace will move on.

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